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Apr 5, 2008 05:03 AM

Food and Divorce in the NY Times

In this weekend's Modern Love column, a woman writes about how her and her husband's food routines mirrored the decline of their marriage. Chowhounds know that food is a big part of marriage, so here it is:

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  1. Thanks for posting the link. Excellent read.

    12 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      The writer really beat the concept to death. I thought the story was a bore.

      1. re: Claire

        Claire, I agree with you. I always read the Modern Love column and I found this one pretty silly.

          1. re: HungryRubia

            There was another piece in the NYT recently - don't know if it was in this column - about a woman cooking for her dying husband, I think. That one touched me. This one kind of beat me over the head.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Might you be referring to an article from the same NYT column,
              'Modern Love'? There was one published last week called "How We Went from Grief to Pancakes" or something like that. Whether it's the same piece, I don't know, but it was an excellent article that I found very moving, having just lost a parent unexpectedly less than two months ago. There's little to do with cooking or food, except that the writer mentions how she was comforted by the smell of her freshly-purchased basil during the months of her husband's dying.

              1. re: Agent Orange

                I don't think that was it - I'll keep looking -

                I'm sorry about your parent.

            2. re: HungryRubia

              i finished it and i'm sorry i did. it was horrid. interesting concept, terrible execution. i thought the writing was just plain bad - i could understand where she was trying to get but half the time i was thinking, why did she say it like THAT??

              plus i got the feeling she feels it was all his fault... he's cheating (long lunches) and sure she's let herself go but gee it's all in the name of being the perfect mother. gag me with a spoon.

              my husband, on the other hand, can still make me swoon in the kitchen. :)

              1. re: mrsjenpeters

                Re "The writer really beat the concept to death." Maybe she did, but if she was contractually obligated to write an entire book, she really did have to stretch and pad where she could. That, to some readers, would be beatin it to death -- and it is possible that style spilled over into her essay. Just a thought.

                1. re: ClaireWalter

                  If the writer had to "stretch and pad where she could" maybe an entire book is asking too much? And if the strain of all that padding "spilled over into her essay," well, maybe the conceit of the book (the food as metaphore for the dwindling interest of the partners) doesn't work--at least that writer couldn't make it work.

                  1. re: Claire

                    To Claire (and others) from Claire - When a writer gets a book contract, it is for a certain number of words. If an author tells his/her editor that there "isn't enough" for the agreed-up and contractually signed length, some editors will make adjustments but others want it written anyway. It an upcoming book appears in a publisher's catalog, on amazon/com and elsewhere as being a certain number of pages, that's what it will be. I don't know whether this was the case here, but it wouldn't surprise me.

                    1. re: ClaireWalter

                      It wouldn't surprise me either ClaireWalter, but so what? Should we say, because a writer has a certain number of words to supply it's okay if they're badly chosen?

                      1. re: Claire

                        The book was about the ending of the marriage; this was one essay from it - I doubt the whole book hinged on the concept of disinterest in food as metaphor for the state of the marriage. I didn't like the piece either, mostly because I really disliked the author's voice, which I found somewhat precious.

      2. I thought the author captured that slow asphyxiation that can occur without the parties ever really being able to identify a cause. The use of food reflecting the stages worked for me. I could definitely relate to the unfortunate process on a few different levels.

        I have kept a combo recipe-menu notebook of the time together with my SO. Looking back over it (it doesn't contain "diary" type notations) I can see the ebb & flow of time periods just by reading what we ate. The food choices reflect the pace, the occasion or lack of, seasonality, economic states and emotional states. Not being a story teller, I was intrigued with the idea someone could read a notebook like this and perhaps pull a story from its raw (and cooked :) !) material.

        1 Reply
        1. re: meatn3

          There was nothing wrong with the concept meatn3. But it should be applied subtly throughout the story, not in a way that forced. It's not the reader who should experience a "slow asphyxiation."

        2. I thought it was a little too dark. And she made living in the 'middle' sound dreary and just plain grim. Marriage isn't a fairy tale, it's the whole up and down and growing together throughout the struggle. Maybe if she would have learned to cook with him, and didn't think it was OK to try to escape, there would be a different ending!

          1. I read the piece and thought it wasn't bad. It used a lot of very personal symbolism, which I liked when combined with the modern writing...

            1. Made me feel good about my marriage. Just to be picky, but this is the NYT, doesn't one butterfly a leg of lamb and French a rack?